History of Ebla
History of the Excavations
History of the Excavations
 
Immagine
Il busto di Ibbit-Lim


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Scalinata Monumentale


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Ingresso agli Ipogei Reali

The site of Ebla, whose modern name is Tell Mardikh, was visited for the first time by Paolo Matthiae in 1962, after he had seen in Aleppo Museum the fragments of a double basalt basin, carved on three sides, salvaged a short time before on the site, and wrongly dated to the I millennium BC. The following year, the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums asked the Sapienza, University of Rome to start an excavation in Syria, and Paolo Matthiae wished to visit that site again, as it had immediately appeared to him to be of the greatest interest for several reasons: Tell Mardikh is one of the largest archaeological sites in North Syria, reaching 56 hectares in surface, with a strongly characterized morphology marked by the outer fortification, the wide ring shaped Lower Town, and the central hillock of the Acropolis; the surface pottery was largely to be dated between the half of the IIIrd and the half of the IInd millennium BC and only on the Acropolis there were shards of the Ist millennium BC until the Hellenistic Period; the finding of the carved cult basin, of a type as yet unknown, dating from the first centuries of the IInd millennium BC guaranteed that the town had been a centre of primary political and cultural importance; no modern settlement had been placed in the tell area, which was therefore free for a really promising scientific exploration.
So, in 1964, a small Italian expedition of the Sapienza, directed by P. Matthiae started to make excavations on the archaeological site, whose ancient name was unknown. Since then the Missione Archeologica Italiana in Siria (MAIS) worked with continuity, year after year, without interruption, and sometimes with two campaigns in the same year.

   
Immagine
Scalinata d'accesso agli Ipogei Reali

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Tomba della Principessa. Ceramica in posto nell'Ipogeo Q.78.A

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Bracciali a barre attorte in oro dalla Tomba della Principessa (TM.78.Q.370-375)

The first decade, between 1964 and 1973, was totally devoted to the discovery of monuments of the Old Syrian period (ca. 2000-1600 BC), and had, as crucial moment, the discovery, in 1968, of Ibbit-Lim’s, king of Ebla, torso, dating from the beginning of the archaic Old Syrian period, which allowed for the first time the identification of Tell Mardikh with ancient Ebla, a town up to that time known only from some important Mesopotamian royal document, and from some very rare mention in Hittite texts from Anatolia and hieroglyphic texts from Egypt.
The second decade, between 1974 and 1983 was prevalently dedicated to the excavation of the best preserved parts of the mature Early Syrian Ebla (ca 2400-2300 BC) with the Royal Palace G, often in an excellent state of preservation, and was marked by the sensational discovery of the State Archives of Ebla, of 2300 BC, which took place between 1964 and 1976. One of the most important discoveries of this second phase was the discovery of the three hypogeal of the Royal Tombs, dating from between 1850 and 1700 BC, which took place between 1978 and 1979.
During the third decade, between 1984 and 1993, the main aim was the identification and the excavation of almost all the main buildings of the Lower Town of the classical Old Syrian Ebla (ca. 1800-1600 BC) in the western sector of the Lower Town: from Shamash’s Temple to the Northern Palace with ceremonial function and Ishtar’s Cult Area with the Terrace for the great goddess’s lions, from the Western Palace, the Crown Prince’s residence, to Rashap’s Cult Area with the Deified Royal Ancestors’ Sanctuary.

   
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La Fortezza V

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Il Tempio della Roccia

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Il Tempio di Ishtar e il sottostante Tempio Rosso

During the fourth decade, between 1994 and 2003, the attention was shifted to the Old Syrian fortification system, with the ramparts, the imposing fortresses and forts built on the walls and the four large city gates. Even if the imposing Damascus Gate had been largely brought to light at the beginning of the excavations, in this phase important parts of the structures of Aleppo and Euphrates Gates were discovered, the large Western Fort, the not smaller Northern Fort and the two smaller East-North-East and East-South-East Fortresses were excavated; also in these years the Southern Palace of the Palace Prefect was discovered South of the Citadel.
During the fifth decade, started in 2004, the excavations were again concentrated, at the beginning, in the Lower Town South-East, in a very important cult area used between the mature Early Syrian period, when the Temple of the Rock was built, and the end of the classical Old Syrian period. On the other hand, since 2008 the excavation were concentrated on the Acropolis, where an antecedent of the Old Syrian Ishtar’s Temple was identified, the Red Temple, and where, in the most recent years, every effort is being made in order to reach and bring to light not limited sectors of the Royal Palace E of the archaic and classical Old Syrian period, below the several stratified superimpositions of Middle Syrian villages, of the Iron Age and of the Persian and Hellenistic periods.

 
 
 

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